What Work Means
My name is Heather and I am young, active and fit! I live at home with my family and I'm a Supported Employee, a Laundry Assistant, with Hansel.
I started my career working in a care home near Crosshouse in Kilmarnock, mostly making beds and sorting people's laundry. Hansel helped me get that job and I was good at it but I didn't really enjoy it so I wanted to look for a different job.
My Mum and Dad helped me talk to Hansel's Employment Support Service about my experience in the care home and to ask for help to look for other jobs. My Mum and I met with my Employment Development Advisor at Hansel – and my Dad even met with the big bosses. Together we talked things through and I began to look for other jobs.
I did a job trial with Hansel's admin team to see if I like filing and photocopying. I didn't! It was quite boring – being an Admin Assistant was not for me!
Then a job vacancy came up in Hansel's Laundry and I was asked if I would like to try this. I agreed to do another work trial for a few weeks to see how I would get on. My first day working in the laundry was a bit scary because I didn't know anyone. But people were really helpful; everyone welcomed me and showed me what to do.
After my work trial, I applied for the job. My Employment Development Advisor was really helpful - she helped me write the application form and prepare for the interview with the Laundry Co-ordinator. I was really nervous but the support I got from Hansel and my parents helped me feel more confident. I got the job! That was 4 years ago! I work 21 hours per week.
I've learned a lot over those 4 years and, with support from Hansel, I am also working through a Modern Apprentice qualification. I'm on my third unit now. The first unit I completed was Health & Safety, the second unit was Working Together as a Team and the third unit is about using equipment (washing machines). At the end of my apprenticeship studies I will get a qualification as a Laundry Assistant. It's a real challenge – but it's really good to know things that other people don't – I have specialised skills in laundering!
I have a good laugh with my colleagues but we also work had together. There is a mix of people some young, some older. We all get on together. We are a good team – best in Scotland.
I get my wages every Thursday; the money gives me more choices and helps me to have a better life. I can afford my mobile phone to keep in touch with people and I can give 'taps' to my big brother when he is skint! Having a job gives me more money to see my friends, go on holiday and buy clothes! Because I work I've got a busy life and I'm really happy just now. Life is good!
Employment support has always been a central part of Hansel's services and remains so today. All of our Lifestyle Supports work with customers, at their pace, to achieve their ambitions. This might be to increase skills which could improve employability or to explore employment opportunities, either paid or voluntary. We also have a dedicated Employment Support Service which delivers the government's Work Choice programme.
Heather's Employment Development Advisor was one of that team. Advisors work with customers to explore the options available, build employability skills and secure employment.
When Heather decided she didn't want to stay in her job with the care home we worked with her, and her family, to explore other avenues. We are able to offer a range of work trials at Hansel, through our supported businesses and our own central services, and we also work in partnership with a number of Ayrshire businesses who offer work trials, placements and supported employment.
Work trials are a great way to explore different areas without the investment of trying to secure a position. Heather learned from her Admin work trial – she learned that she didn't like Admin!
Sorting laundry had been part of Heather's role with the care home and she recognised that it was something she was good at. The vacancy in our Laundry offered the opportunity for Heather to build on this skill, both in terms of widening her experience by working in a commercial laundry and by undertaking the Modern Apprenticeship. This course has developed Heather's confidence as well as her skills and will stand her in good stead in her future career.
Heather's story shows us what people get out of employment – support from colleagues, self-respect, self-confidence and money! Her earnings give her choices and opportunities, and Heather, like many young women, chooses friends, holiday and clothes!